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Celanese’s moonshot: Control towers and connected plants

This month, Ignite News is featuring three companies with big ideas and big goals for this decade. Moonshot or not? You decide.

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The term moonshot emerged in the 1950s, a time when the very idea of innovation and ambition was tied to the act of propelling a spacecraft all the way to the moon. Today, the definition of moonshot has outgrown its lunar roots and become synonymous with the ambitions of people and companies to do something life-altering and oftentimes mind-blowing.

Ibrahim Al-Syed, director of Digital Manufacturing at Celanese, has his sights set on empowering every worker to reach their full potential.

What’s Celanese’s next moonshot?

Ibrahim Al-Syed: A Digital Plant of the future that is predictable, self-optimizing, remote, and autonomous to make safe, reliable, and quality products across the globe. This means that we will be able to produce at our maximum potential, achieve maximal responsiveness to current and forecast market forces, and optimize continuously within a dynamic operating window.

What are you doing to get there?

IA: We’re implementing a user-centric digital manufacturing strategy that truly inspires and optimizes our people to become more efficient and effective in our digital processes by leveraging the right data at the right time and place to make better insightful decisions. 

We have to enable our people to work at their maximum potential. To do that, we have to improve work experiences by unifying people, data, process, and systems with a common platform, remove people from high-risk operations, minimize time on nonvalue-added activities—like automating transactional work—use robots and, lastly, empower people with the right skills for the right job. 

If you achieve your moonshot, what will the world look like in 2030?

IA: Our manufacturing plants have transformed into connected sites with a central control tower in Dallas, Texas, with a beautiful view across the lake in Irving. The sites operate on a standardized digital platform which enables a small crew of highly capable employees to optimize all activities ranging from product delivery to production processes to maintenance in real time from the central control tower—or from the beach with information at their fingertips.

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